The Chandigarh municipal corporation has failed to streamline functioning of apni mandis/day markets, which have now morphed into an ill-maintained urban mess. The entire day-market concept, which was devised to facilitate locals as well as farmers by eliminating middlemen, has been floundering due to the civic body’s inability to stick to the rulebook while managing the mandi affairs.
Locals face various problems due to traffic chaos around such mandis and piles of garbage left behind. There are no mobile toilets or check on overcharging by vendors and use of polybags is rampant.
The apni mandi committee members say they had recommended major improvements to make things better but officials concerned don’t seem to care at all, adding that now things have gone from bad to worse.
In its recommendations, the committee had asked for surprise checks in apni mandis, installation of mobile toilets, and stationing of fire brigade at these sites. It was also decided that a letter would be written to the superintendent of police, traffic, to regulate traffic near these sites but to no avail.
In general, around 400 stalls are set up at a mandi and piles of garbage is left behind in absence of a proper arrangement for lifting the litter.
MANDI COMMITTEE HELD 10 MEETINGS SINCE 2012
What makes the poor condition of the apni mandis especially inexcusable is the fact that the committee has only met 10 times since 2012, while the rules mandate it must hold a meeting once in a month with proper follow up of its recommendations.
Sources said before 1996, independent farmers could set up stalls at the designated sites. After the MC took over, it started registrations and since then there has been a steady decline in the number of farmers.
Meanwhile, over 6,000 people visit these mandis — divided into four zones — every day. However, the committee members rue they have little hope as decisions taken at the meetings are never implemented.
BOON OR BANE
According to the norms, measures such as display of the rate list, mobile toilets and proper hygiene at these sites are the most basic facilities, which are mandatory to be provided at apni mandis. But, the MC, even after being aware of these issues, chooses to sit on the recommendations made by the committee.
Former member of the committee, major DS Sandhu (retd), said, “All these issues were also flagged during a coordinating committee meet with Urvija Goel, assistant superintendent of police (ASP), south, last year. As the poor condition of the Sector-43 apni mandi was on the agenda, it was highlighted that vehicles parked on the V-3 road dividing Sectors 42-B and 43-A were causing traffic. Also, the issue of vendors occupying the cycle track between the site and the road to evade licence fee was also discussed,” he said.
Jai Pal Singh, secretary, apni mandi committee, said, “Police have been requested several times to regulate traffic. We have also asked the department of weights and measures to conduct surprise checks but the situation has not changed.”
Not convinced with Singh, former mayor Subhash Chawla said, “We have never seen weights and measures department officials inspecting mandis, resulting in vendors fleecing visitors, which have become a norm. It’s astonishing that even after the footfall of around 6,000 visitors every day, police officials can nowhere be seen on the site.”
An apni mandi or a farmers’ market refers to a local fruit and vegetable market, which is organised by the Punjab Mandi Board, and each vendor pay around Rs 500 as rent to the MC for using the space. The Punjab mandi board fixes the rates of vegetables.
Started in 2005 for local vendors, these apni mandis are maintained by the MC and function from 10am to 9pm. In Chandigarh, they are held in four zones during fixed days. The MC gets around Rs 30, 000 from around 11 apni mandis held in different locations of the city around the week.